Jazz Caliente | KNKX

Jazz Caliente

Saturday 5PM-6PM

Where jazz meets Afro-Cuban, Afro-Brazilian, Puerto Rican, and Pan-American rhythms.  A lively tour of the diverse world of Latin Jazz hosted by Robin Llloyd.

Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés with batá drum
Carol Friedman / courtesy of the artist

On Jazz Caliente this Saturday, we'll hear a selection from the latest release by Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés, "Jazz Batá 2."  The album was nominated this week for Best Latin Jazz Album by the 20th Annual Latin Grammys. Let's meet a few of the other 2019 Latin Grammy nominees.

Trombonist, singer and songwriter Natalie Cressman
FifthLegend from Eagan, Minnesota / Wiki Commons

This week on Jazz Caliente, we'll hear some great trombone playing from veteran bandleader Papo Vasquez, and also from relative newcomer Natalie Cressman.  Let's get to know some Latin jazz trombonists!

Percussionist Manny Oquendo (1931-2009) led and co-founded the influential Latin jazz ensemble called Conjunto Libre.  Like the "hard-bop academy" of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, it was a finishing school for the musicians who passed through it on their way to becoming leaders and luminaries of Latin jazz.

Puerto Rican dancers at the 35th annual Puerto Rican Festival Parade in Boston, 2002
AP Photo/Julia Malakie

Looking at the diversity of musicians just within this Saturday's Jazz Caliente playlist, I realize that the arts (and, for me, music in particular) are the common ground where we all can meet and get along like civilized beings.  

Master percussionist Paoli Mejías
Alex Diaz / https://alexdiazphotography.com/

A Grammy-nominated Puerto Rican percussion master is bringing his Latin jazz quintet to the Pacific Northwest for two concerts this week. Let’s get to know Paoli Mejías!

Jim Coile plays flute with Sonando at KNKX, June 2018
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Saxophonist and flautist Jim Coile died last week, in an accident on his way home from a kayaking and fishing trip in Mexico. Coile worked with several groups in the Pacific Northwest, and he was one of the original members of Seattle’s longest-running Latin jazz band, Sonando.

A toucan sits on a branch at the Biopark "La Reserva" in Cota, Colombia
Fernando Vergara / The Associated Press

For no particular reason, this week's Jazz Caliente show starts with a set of three tunes about birds.

Birds are well represented in music throughout Spain, Cuba, Mexico and South America. Here are a few more Latin jazz bird songs.

"Conversation" sculpture, Plaza de San Francisco, Havana, Cuba
Robn Lloyd / KNKX

This week, the Trump administration brought back drastic restrictions on travel to Cuba. Setting aside the political, economic and philosophical debates, here's a baker's dozen of fond memories from my trip to Cuba in 2013 with a delightful group of KNKX listeners.

Trumpeter Etienne Charles
courtesy of the artist

A troop of fine trumpeters from around the world liven up this week's Jazz Caliente. Here's the scoop.

Guitarist Daniel Girón
courtesy of the artist

The term "Latin jazz" may conjure images of lots of drums, percussion and horns, but let's not forget the guitars. This week on Jazz Caliente, we'll hear a few great guitarists from Columbia, Brazil and right in our own backyard.

Eddie Palmieri performing at at the Tito Puente Amphitheather in San Juan, Puerto Rico, 2005

Cinco de Mayo is Sunday, and we'll celebrate with some new music from Mexican artists like Lila Downs and Rodrigo y Gabriela on Jazz Caliente this Saturday. 

We'll also salute the "Sun of Latin Music," Eddie Palmieri, who brings his Latin Jazz Septet to The Triple Door on Tuesday, May 7.

Brazilian saxophonist Daniela Spielmann
courtesy of the artist

Centrum in Port Townsend is celebrating its 10th year of presenting Choro workshops and concerts. This week on Jazz Caliente, we'll get to know some of the visiting Brazilian artists who make this very popular Centrum program thrive.

Pianist/composer Ann Reynolds enjoying the movement of Cuban jazz
Steve Korn

Ann Reynolds' second Clave Gringa CD, Joy, will be celebrated at a release party at the Royal Room in Seattle on Sunday, April 21.

Ann and I recently chatted about her fascination with Cuban music, and about the new album, part of which was recorded in Cuba with Cuban musicians. 

Drummer Ignacio Berroa
courtesy of the artist

The foremost authority on Afro-Cuban jazz drumming will appear with the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra for three concerts next week. If you're quick, you might be able to pick up the last few remaining tickets.

Let's get to know Havana-born Ignacio Berroa!

Pianist, educator and social activist Danilo Pérez
photo courtesy of the artist / Mack Avenue Records/Danilo Pérez

The prolific pianist, educator and social activist Danilo Pérez will be appearing with the University of Puget Sound Jazz Orchestra on Friday, April 5.

Seckou Keita and Omar Sosa
Alicia Carrera / courtesy of the artist

Here are the Jazz Caliente recommendations for live music this week that you should not miss!

A bee flies towards a blooming crocus in a public garden
Focke Strangmann / APN

Muchas gracias, obrigado, and thank you!  Listener support has allowed Jazz Caliente to blossom and grow on KNKX.  Fund drive time is here, and you can be part of the spring renewal with your gift today at knkx.org or 877-NPR-KNKX (677-5659).

Performer from Paraíso do Tuiuti Samba School in competition in Rio de Janeiro, 2018
Fat Press / LIESA

March 2019 is going to be an extraordinary month for live music, with performances by local favorites and internationally renowned masters of Brazilian and Afro-Cuban jazz. Here's the update, and a peek beyond March, too. Click on the links for details and ticket information.

Grammy nominee Elio Villafranca in the studio
Kasia Idzkowska / courtesy of the artist

The 61st Grammy Awards show is this Sunday at 5 p.m. We'll revisit some of the nominees for the "Best Latin Jazz Album" category this week on Saturday Jazz Caliente. Here's a Jazz Caliente video extravaganza to help introduce you to these outstanding artists:

Trumpeter Pete Rodriguez, son of salsero Pete "El Conde" Rodriguez
©Hannah Neal / courtesy of the artist

Musical genius seems like it could be a genetic trait. It's so often passed down through successive generations. That's certainly true in Latin jazz, and we'll hear from members of musical families this week on Saturday's Jazz Caliente.

Pianist André Mehmari, reflected
Anita Kalikies / courtesy of the artist

The Brazilian pianist and composer André Mehmari brings his trio to the Pacific Northwest for the first time next week for shows in Portland, Seattle and Bellevue.  I'm grateful that I was able to catch a phone interview with this truly brilliant musician.

Percussionist Mayra Casales at Chicago's Auditorium Theater, 2016
Vernon Hester / Windy City Times/windycitymediagroup.com

Mayra Casales is recognized as a powerful and versatile percussionist, and she's certainly done her share of advocating for women in music. Let's get to know our Jazz Caliente Rhythm Maker No. 14!

Daymé Arocena in concert in Havana, Cuba 2016
Diane Guerra / courtesy of the artist

At the very top of your New Year's resolution list, write this: See more live music performances! The Seattle-area live Latin jazz forecast for the first quarter of 2019 is impressive. Here's what we know so far.

Poster for Cuban Chemistry
Kiki Valera and Coco Freeman photos by Raul Campoverde, Carlos Cascante photo courtesy of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra

Cuban Chemistry will sizzle at Seattle's Century Ballroom Saturday night, December 8.  The musical chemistry between Cuban cuatro master Kiki Valera, popular Cuban vocalist Coco Freeman, and award-winning vocalist and songwriter Carlos Cascante will be impossible to resist, and there will even be a dance lesson before the show, in case you need to brush up on your fancy steps.

A boy takes a break from his drum lessons at the Danilo Perez Foundation music school in Panama City, 2012
AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco

Musicians have always passed along their knowledge and experience to the next generation.  For some, taking on students is just an additional revenue stream.  But for many others, teaching is a serious mission. 

We'll hear from a couple of the most dedicated Latin Jazz professors this week on Saturday Jazz Caliente:

Chucho Valdés poses in the press room with the award for best latin jazz album for "Tribute to Irakere: Live in Marciac" at the 59th annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017, in Los Angeles.
Chris Pizzello/Invision / AP

Chucho Valdés, the pianist/composer/bandleader often referred to as "The Duke Ellington of Cuba," will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Latin Grammys in a private ceremony on Tuesday November 13.

Jane Bunnett and Maqueque
courtesy of the artist / janebunnett.com

A CD release party on Saturday and the final concert of the 30th annual Earshot Jazz Festival on Sunday are perfect reasons to celebrate women in Latin Jazz, and to mark the second anniversary of the debut of Saturday Jazz Caliente on KNKX!

Film poster A Tuba to Cuba
Nom De Guerre Films

In 2015, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band of New Orleans made a trip to Cuba.  Their life-changing journey is documented in the wonderfully entertaining and moving film A Tuba to Cuba.

A man dressed as devil dances to celebrate the "Day to demand the Bolivian origin of the Diablada dance" in La Paz,  2009.
Juan Karita / AP Photo

For the Halloween edition of Saturday Jazz Caliente, I've sprinkled the playlist with music about a Peruvian/Bolivian devil, a Cuban spirit, and even one of Dracula's minions; specifically, his chauffeur.  Here's some background:

Yamandu Costa in São Paulo, 2011
Fronteiras do Pensamento / courtesy of the artist

Brazil is known for producing an astonishing number of guitar virtuosi.  Leading the next generation of wizards of the strings, Yamandu Costa is a unique improviser, composer and master of the 7-string guitar.